Monday, October 19, 2009

Predicting 2010: Dems will still control Congress

It may be too soon to start talking about the midterm elections, but many conservatives and Republican-leaning commentators are predicting a big win for Republicans when the 2010 midterm elections come around. They point to the large turnout at TEA Party protests as evidence of this, as well as other knee-jerk reactions to the proposed policies made by so-called "socialist" Democrats.

Those "socialists," however, include a broad coalition of Democrats, ranging from the fiscally conservative Blue Dogs to the more ambitious Progressive Caucus. This "large tent" of Democrats have made it difficult for most Americans to gauge what the Democratic Party's goals and platform really are, as each Congressional Dem has a different take on every piece of legislation that comes to the Hill.

Nevertheless, Republican probably will pick up a few seats come November 2010 -- but not enough to substantially change Washington. While it's true that TEA Party protesters and other conservative interests represent a vocal group of actively engaged citizens, they're simply a vocal minority. They don't represent the majority of U.S. citizens that want higher taxes on the wealthy or the majority of Americans that want a public option in the final version of the health care reform bill.

Many of the "conserva-Dems" that won in districts where John McCain actually defeated Barack Obama for votes in the presidential election will undoubtedly face fierce competition from Republican foes. And with the large majority that the Democrats already have in both houses of Congress, there's really only one way they can go in 2010 -- and that's down.

But don't expect Congress to be controlled by the GOP in 2011; what's more likely is that Democrats will see only a few in their ranks leave. The Dems will still hold control of both the House and Senate; indeed, polling numbers indicate that Democrats are still favored, if just slightly, over Republicans in a generic ballot.

The Democratic Party definitely has some ground to pick up: the Republicans' strategy of obstructionism and the Democrats' failure to come together as a unified party have caused some within the public to think twice about supporting the ideas and policies that Obama and Congressional Democrats have proposed. Still, more Americans support those ideas and policies than don't.

We're a long way from seeing the GOP take control of legislative government, and still way off from seeing a Republican President come 2012. Unless something drastic happens, don't count on a conservative government for quite some time.

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